"We step forth into life with our dreams but we are pierced by life's reality as well."
~ Richard Moss
Throughout life, we all experience many different types and degrees of grief. In addition to death, all other losses need to be fully grieved in order to maintain consistent emotional well-being. Besides grieving a physical death, a child might need to grieve a divorce, a wife might need to fully grieve the loss of her spouse's health, a teenager might need to grieve the end of his relationship.
You might need to grieve your lost dreams. You might need to grieve because you have fundamental core value differences with someone you love. Or, you might have inner child aspects inside that need to grieve because love and safety were not provided in the past.
It is typical to vacillate through the various stages of grief. When you are processing a loss, you might cycle through panic and anger. Resisting your loss, you might try to control your circumstances or other people, and then fall into despair when you cannot. With time, you will exhaust yourself and likely need to withdraw into a deep depression (a place of deep-rest) until you find a natural place of acceptance for your loss.
THE SIX STAGES OF GRIEF
1. NUMBNESS AND DENIAL
To initially cope with loss it common to go in a state of shock and denial. Denial helps you to pace your feelings of grief but it also makes you feel numb, hard and frozen. As you proceed through the grieving process, all the feelings you have been denying about your loss will eventually need to surface.
2. ANXIETY AND PANIC *
When you feel anxiety, deeper feelings about your loss will be piercing through your denial. Anxiety and panic will chip away at your emotional numbness, hardness or frozenness to indicate that you need to go into the deeper stages of grief so that it can be resolved.
3. BARGAINING AND CONTROL
The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is to try to regain control through a series of “If only” statements. This is an attempt to bargain. Guilt often accompanies bargaining. You might believe there was something you could have done differently to avoid your loss. You might become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements.
4. FRUSTRATION AND ANGER
Intense emotion deflected from your vulnerable core most often gets redirected and expressed as anger. After bargaining and your attempts to control do not work, you will likely get frustrated and you will have to face your loss at a deeper level.
You might resent a person for causing you pain or for leaving you. Your anger and frustration might be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. Anger, most especially, might be directed toward the person you have lost.
5. DEPRESSION AND DESPAIR
After bargaining and attempts to control, grief enters into a much deeper level. You might want to withdraw from life for a time to truly process what you have lost. You might feel intense heartbreak and sadness. You might wonder despairingly if there is any point in going on. When a loss fully settles into your being there will be a deep realization that your life will not continue on as it as before.
6. ACCEPTANCE AND PEACE
Eventually, you will learn to live with your loss. You must now live in a world where your loved one is missing. You might need to give up your hope that your emotional needs from the past will be met. Or you might need to accept that your cherished dreams for your future will not come to fruition.
In resisting this "new normal, it is common to wish to maintain life as it was before your loss and cycle through the prior stages of grief again and again. However, in time, dipping in and of acceptance, you will see that you cannot live your life in the past.
As you listen to and tend to your own needs, you will change, grow, and evolve. You can eventually choose to accept your losses, resolve and reconcile your past, and find ways to live fully in new fulfilling ways.
*(I have added anxiety and panic to the"Five Stages of Grief" model.)